A growing waiting list for local authority official searches and delays of up to two months are expected to result in a problematic end to the stamp duty holiday on March 31st next year.

Residential property expert, Debbie Fortune ,whose three local residential sales offices work closely with property lawyers and conveyancers, suggests that house buyers and sellers should be warned that the delays mean there’s a real chance they will miss the 31 March deadline, so they would miss out on the cash savings of as much as £15,000 for a £500,000 property.

She says: “We are lucky to have the resources to put plans in place now that will ensure our team can do everything possible to support our clients and their property solicitors or conveyancers to get purchases and sales as close to completion as soon as possible - starting now but especially as we get closer to the end of March 2021 deadline."

The volume of houses being listed for sale and the speed at which they are selling has reached record numbers since August.

Debbie adds : “The number of homes selling within a week of coming to market has reached its highest point in 10 years, according to analysis from Rightmove, and new vendor enquiries into estate agents this month (September 2020) are up 64% on the first week of September 2019.

“Whilst this is fantastic news for our clients and the economy in general , the knock-on effect is that the sheer volume of transactions means things will start to back up and if property transactions continue at this rate over the coming six months, the delays will mean some property sales won’t have time to complete in time to qualify for and benefit from the SDLT changes before the scheme comes to an end in March.”

The Chancellor’s stamp duty land tax holiday means all homebuyers in England and Northern Ireland purchasing homes valued at up to £500,000 don't pay any stamp duty on the purchase, so long as it is completed by 31st March next year.

Debbie says that it is really important to choose a good solicitor or conveyancer and then to keep regularly in touch with them and with your estate agents.

“Five months may seem a very long time and Spring next year seems ages away, but with a build up of finance applications and applications for local authority searches we are expecting to hear warnings from solicitors to our clients about the possibility they will miss the 31 March 2021 deadline.

And what happens if they miss it...will they then ask clients for confirmation of extra funding availability should stamp duty need to be paid if the deadline is missed?”

“All in all, this signals the likelihood of a pretty messy and fraught end to the Stamp Duty Land Tax holiday and there is a strong movement in the property industry to press for it to be extended “, she says.

Nationally, homes selling within a week is up 125% compared to the same period last year and 28 per cent higher from its previous peak in February 2016, before the Brexit vote. Some 30% of homes sold within two weeks of being listed, up from 21% in 2019.

“ Property prices in the South West rose by 2.5% in the year to the end of August and September saw our busiest month to date this year with a huge increase in potential buyers coming out of cities , like London and Bristol to the country area south of Bristol , and Debbie concludes: “Of course , in the scheme of things and in the grip of this awful pandemic, next March seems like another world, but anyone who seriously wants to make a move before the deadline, and save themselves thousands of pounds in the process has to get their property ready to sell, appoint the right agent, find a buyer, and then go through the conveyancing process . This all takes time, and doesn’t leave much room for any unexpected delays."

For all your property needs, selling, buying, letting or renting, in the country area south of Bristol, call Debbie Fortune Estate Agents at any of their three offices in Congresbury, Backwell and Chew Magna, or visit